Entries in delegation (2)


In Good Hands

In Good Hands

From time to time, I try to imagine what it will be like in fifteen or twenty years and how my son and his peers will manage in a complex and ever-changing world.  There are times when I’m concerned that our kids will repeat the mistakes of history because they don’t study history. And then there are times when I smile and think, “We’ll be okay.”

As some of you may already know, a friend and I have been exploring the possibility of starting a micro-winery in the Hudson Valley of New York as a side business that will produce fruit wines from locally grown fruit. (Just in case you’re wondering, I have every intention to continue in my consulting and coaching business for many years to come!) Earlier this week, I had a meeting with a well-known local winery to explore the possibility of initially making our wines under their roof and with some of their state-of-the art equipment.  Disclosure -- I felt like a kid in a candy store! That night, my sixteen-year-old asked me how the meeting went.  And then he peppered me with a series of questions that blew my mind.

The questions came in waves, each one deeper and more impressive than the one before it.  Our conversation went something like this:

“How long will it take to break even?”  (Translation: “Have you really thought this thing out, Dad?”)

“How will you protect your different fruit wine ‘recipes?’” (Translation: “Who are these people and are they trustworthy?”)

“What are the pros and cons of renting space and equipment from the winery versus having them make the wine for you?” (Translation: “What are the costs/benefits of each approach?”)

My son knows that I love making wine and it is this awareness that made me pay even closer attention to his next question. “Why would you want to pay someone else to make your wine if winemaking gives you so much pleasure?”  (Translation: “Do you really want to delegate this aspect of the project to someone else? This led to a great sidebar conversation about how, why, and when one needs to delegate.)

“Will you be able to get enough raspberries and peaches locally if the micro-winery takes off and what impact will climate change have locally over the next 10-15 years?” (Translation: “What are some of the events outside of your control that might impact your business and what are some ‘What If?’ scenarios that you need to consider now, rather than later?”)

My son diverted his attention back to his homework and I sat down in front of the woodstove to reflect on the conversation that had just transpired. Moments later my wife asked me what was on my mind.  I smiled.  “I was just thinking that the world will be in good hands when this generation of kids grow up.”



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7 Steps To Get More Done With Less In 2013

The new year has just begun and already one of my clients (who I'll call Robert) is feeling the pressure to get "it" done, whatever "it" is. Chances are you and Robert have something in common; you're on the hook to deliver even more than you did last year and you'll probably have to get it done with the same number of people or fewer. Sound familiar?  As far as I can figure, the only way to get more done with less is to work smarter, not harder, because every day still only has 24 hours.

Leading Versus Managing:

There's a huge opportunity for individuals like Robert to learn how to lead by influence rather than managing with the illusion of control.  Peter Block (, to whom I am forever grateful for giving me my first shot as an Organization Development consultant, once said: "Managers push and leaders pull."  That's stuck with me for nearly 20 years. I've since come to realize that there are physical laws that support Block's perspective. For example, we've all heard of gravitational pull, but gravitational push?  I don't think so.  So how do you accomplish more with less?

7 Steps To Get More Done With Less In 2013:

1) Be crystal clear about your most important objectives; these are the bulleyes to keep in sight at all times. I suggest you limit yourself to three at any given time, since this is the capacity for the typical human brain.
2) Look yourself in the mirror and acknowledge where your strengths lie and where your weaknesses are hidden. (Promise yourself not to blink!) Write or input your +'s/-'s somewhere that you can view them weekly. One of my clients has them pop up as reminders on his iPhone.
3) Surround yourself with people who round out your weaknesses, not just complement your strengths. In other words, don't pack your team with people in your own image.  Instead, strive to build an inclusive team of diverse individuals.  Does that thought make you feel a little uncomfortable? Good.  Keep going -- you're onto something.
4) Take inventory to identify each individual's and your team's strengths and shortcomings in a non-judgmental way.  Write them down. Keep your inventory someplace handy and refer to it when you're about to assign a project.
5) Be a flexible delegator.  No, I don't mean assigning projects from the lotus position. Instead, I suggest you assign and follow up on projects in a style that matches your team member's degree of engagement in and competence for the task(s) on hand.  In other words, strive to assign "round-peg" tasks to "round-peg" people and "square-peg" tasks to "square-peg" people. And remember to share the wealth so everybody gets a chance to work on a cool project every now and then.
6) Provide positive and developmental feedback to your team regularly. As Maureen McGuire, Chief Marketing Officer of Bloomberg LP once told me, "Coaching doesn't have to be long and dragged out. It can happen over a quick cup of coffee or as a drive-by conversation in a hallway."
7) Express gratitude to others. According to a 2009 National Institutes of Health study (Zahn, et al, 2009), feeling and expressing appreciation for others stimulates the hypothalamus region of the brain which, in turn, controls appetite, thirst, and sleeping. Stimulation of the hypothalamus also has a positive influence on individual metabolism and levels of stress. Bottom line, being grateful every day is a good for business and personal relationships, and it's good for you, too. Now that's something to celebrate.